There are moments of American bravery and heroism that begin out of necessity, but end up defining what it means to be American. Many selfless acts following the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 have become legendary. And that’s the case with this story. The flag that firemen raised over the rubble in Manhattan disappeared. But now, after 15 years, it is back.
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The National September 11 Memorial & Museum has the flag on display, just in time for the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the attacks. Yet where it has been remains a mystery.
The flag originally flew on a yacht that was docked near the World Trade Center. As firefighters sifted through the rubble of the downed building, one of them commandeered the flag and it was raised over the wreckage as a sign that the American spirit was still strong.
But then the flag dissipated. Years later, it showed up in Washington state. After experts determined that the flag was authentic, the flag’s original owner, Shirley Dreifus and Chubb, an insurance company, procured the flag for the museum.
“In the darkest hours of 9/11 when our country was at risk of losing all hope, the raising of this American flag by our first responders helped reaffirm that the nation would endure, would recover and rebuild, that we would always remember and honor all of those who lost their lives and risk their own to save others,” said 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels. “We had always hoped this special flag and its story would be shared with our millions of annual visitors coming from around the world, and for that, we are thankful to Shirley Dreifus, the city of Everett, HISTORY, A+E Networks, and Chubb.”
“The raising of this American flag was a powerful symbol of hope, strength and resilience at one of the most trying moments in our nation’s history,” Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg said.
“As we prepare again to pay tribute to those who were lost, this flag is a timely reminder of the spirit of our heroes and the resolve of a great city and great nation. Chubb is honored to donate the flag to its new, permanent and proper home in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.”